Wheel of Time: Leavetaking
November 19, 2021 11:50 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

A strange noblewoman arrives in a remote mountain village, claiming one of five youths is the reincarnation of an ancient power who once destroyed the world – and will do so again, if she’s not able to discover which of them it is. But they all have less time than they think.
posted by nubs (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I believe the first three episodes have dropped, but I've only watched the first one so far.

The good:
-really diverse casting
-there's a willingness to alter the source material (I didn't label this as books included, so I will be careful about saying more). This is hopeful, in that it means the series might step past some slow or problematic elements in the books.

The bad:
-the CGI is underwhelming
-the decision to give Perrin a wife only to have her killed, which I'm sure is in order to give Perrin an arc.
-the pacing felt really slow for most of the episode, only to have the sudden declaration that everyone is leaving at the end.
posted by nubs at 11:56 AM on November 19


I watched the first three last night -- I'm not a WoT fan, but was definitely in A Mood and just wanted to sink into something, and was surprised it was available. Breezed through it pretty comfortably. Some of the beats felt off/underdeveloped, but it moves well.


The bad:
-the CGI is underwhelming
-the decision to give Perrin a wife only to have her killed, which I'm sure is in order to give Perrin an arc.
-the pacing felt really slow for most of the episode, only to have the sudden declaration that everyone is leaving at the end.


Agree with all of these. I'd say the CGI isn't just underwhelming, but is like, noticeably bad for 2021.

Also this show is pretty surprisingly gruesome/graphic in its violence in a way I don't remember from the books (tho that was admittedly at least 15 years ago).

Thanks for making the post, nubs! I'm super interested in reading comparisons between show and books if someone else wants to do a "Books Included" post, or even just a Fanfare Talk or something.
posted by curious nu at 12:09 PM on November 19


On second episode now. First reaction? Not the next Game of Thrones, maybe the next Black Sails? The ginger guy is the most obvious straight out of stage school recruit but there may be hope for the others. Dialogue is pretty bad and hitting too many fantasy tropes. The giant Sweet Tooth with the axe was so lazy as a fantasy baddie I laughed out loud, apparently he's a trollop? Names seem like a particular weakness, I couldn't tell you the name of anyone except Rosamund Pike's character.
posted by biffa at 12:09 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


I want biffa's take on all of these. I have lived with the books for so long it's refreshing to see how bland it all looks from the outside.

Since Perrin didn't immediately stick his head in his own forge I'm going to declare this whole show to be set an alternate universe and try to enjoy it on that basis.
posted by The Monster at the End of this Thread at 12:19 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


The correct name for the horrible CGI baddies is trolloc, not trollop, but that will stick in my mind for a long time and make me giggle. As far as names go, past Moraine:

The guy with the sword who shares her bath is Lan
The redhead guy is Rand
His girlfriend is Egwene
The guy who killed his wife is Perrin
The guy who has the alcoholic parents and the two young sisters is Mat
The lady abducted by the Trollocs (and soon to be rescued, I'm sure) is Nynaeve
posted by nubs at 12:22 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


Books included thread
posted by nubs at 12:40 PM on November 19


Ep 2: Shittest wolfpack ever.
posted by biffa at 12:56 PM on November 19 [3 favorites]


The correct name for the horrible CGI baddies is trolloc, not trollop, but that will stick in my mind for a long time and make me giggle.

Robert Lynn Asprin readers know that a trollop is a female troll.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:05 PM on November 19 [6 favorites]


So, I know nothing of the books, so I have no utter clue who/what anyone is, and I'm not normally predisposed toward “battles of teh light and dark majiks” stories and the like, but, since it has been hyped so much, I thought I’d give this a try. Based on the first two episodes, though, I really didn’t find anything interesting, let alone original, about this to continue. It just feels and sounds like a mishmash of bits and pieces from everything else that has come before in the genre. Sorry.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:23 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


I really didn’t find anything interesting, let alone original, about this to continue. It just feels and sounds like a mishmash of bits and pieces from everything else that has come before in the genre. Sorry.

That's how the books were too but if you were a kid in the 90s there wasn't much else to read that was better.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:00 PM on November 19 [4 favorites]


That's how the books were too but if you were a kid in the 90s there wasn't much else to read that was better.

I.. definitely want to disagree with this. ;p

It just feels and sounds like a mishmash of bits and pieces from everything else that has come before in the genre.

The mishmash specifics are particularly interesting/problematic. The author was a white guy from the southern US, and the various cultures are, uh, pretty much straight-up appropriated. There are fiction reasons for this, but it doesn't excuse it, and I think seeing it on screen is going to (rightly) bring a lot of flak.
posted by curious nu at 5:01 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


-the decision to give Perrin a wife only to have her killed, which I'm sure is in order to give Perrin an arc

I hope so, this was the only interesting character development in the first three episodes.

On further viewing Ginger's girlfriend is also pretty bad in terms of recent stage schooliness. Person and Mat seem like the only hope for the show.

Samurai guy seems to stick out like a sore thumb, is there going to be something to contextualize his existence other than them wanting a samurai type guy in it?

The wolfpack look less embarrassed in ep 3 but having a pursuing horde stop twice in two episodes (the Trollops at the city in ep 2, wolves at random point in ep 3) seems very lazy. My SO is wondering if the wolves are good wolves and that's why they held off eating the lead charts but that seemed unlikely to me. My feeling is at least one of the wolves was taken in by the whole "next Game of Thrones" thing and is now mortified that he will bump into his direwolf cousin at a party.
posted by biffa at 5:52 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


Was not expecting the horrific scenes of violence but aside from those, this seemed an enjoyable time-waster. Have not read the books- am assuming they are fully extruded fantasy product(TM).
posted by Coaticass at 8:06 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


I got on the hate wagon and noped-out on the WoT books earlier than most (book 5 when I caught up to it in paperback release realtime?); but I got into them because some friends did and I enjoyed it in a "Sword of Shannara" (1977)-retread kind of way, but I was introduced to SoS when I was 12 and I might have started this series around 15?

iirc, the particularly problematic appropriation bits mainly crop up later, and were second hand appropriation from other people's appropriation (looking straight at you, David Eddings. Beige, for the Asiatic ethnicity stand-in, for real? But having your stand-in ethnic characters joke about it almost leavens my disparagement into pity - like, it's something to laugh at, but not that way).

Digging Rosamund Pike as Moraine so far (1 ep in), but isn't Moraine supposed to be (relatively) tiny?

I really really like Moraine's costume, but the rest seem kind of low rent, like the CG (which isn't terrible, just not up to prestige-level. Still far, far more better than the MTV 'Shannara Chronicles'). The sets feel more spendy than the acting talent.

... and that tease of quality makes everything subsequent feel cheap.

The Woman's Circle introduction felt like a ripoff of the Quellcrist Falconer bastardization in the Netflix 'Altered Carbon.'

N-thing nub's kudos to the diverse casting, but I wouldn't have minded more ethnicity-bending. Like a different ethnicity (than the "obvious") but with the physical traits described in the books.

The One Thing that could have rescued this for me is during the scene between Nynaeve and Morraine, about Nynaeve's Wisdom teacher who got laughed out of the Aes Sedei for "having a peasant accent" when presenting herself - if the villagers actually had a different accent to Morraine/ Lan - that kind of detail would indicate that there was some thought, some passion, and that it was appreciated in the development of this project.

I can't overcome the feeling that this is a cash grab targeting (very) young gen-x or (very) old gen-y/ I don't know what. Terrible financial decision; this is precisely the cohort that's being generally swept under the carpet because we aren't lucrative consumers as a class.

Or this was a passion project that got waaay over their heads, got funded, then had problems delivering because the money bought into the pitch and had very different ideas (like, trying to monetize the idea along corporate risk-moderation matrices).

For anyone who enjoyed ep 1 story -wise, there's lots more. Whether the show will deliver, you'll get to find out.

I am definitely keeping an eye on who favorites ActingTheGoat's above comment =)
posted by porpoise at 9:22 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


Digging Rosamund Pike as Moraine so far

I'm personally having a thing where I'm loving most of the older actors and not digging most of the younger ones. The younger ones also aren't being given very much complicated to do, so it might not be their fault.
posted by corb at 11:51 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming the opening chase sequence where the woman warriors chase down two men and then there was only one, will be a plot point that makes some kind of sense. Or not. It seems that this show (did not read) is not super concerned with consistency or continuity, and if it's fun that's less important, but it could be more fun.

The timing of idiliac isolated community ravaged by monsters is a reasonable intro, but the reactions of the townsfolk don't seen to be either "oh no monster again" or "this is insane impossible" but something in between. Probably the director unable to give the actors a sense of how to react to the cgi placeholder.

Will certainly watch but it reassures me that not reading the books was not wrong. ;-)
posted by sammyo at 5:09 AM on November 20


I'm personally having a thing where I'm loving most of the older actors and not digging most of the younger ones. The younger ones also aren't being given very much complicated to do, so it might not be their fault.

The younger characters were another stumbling point for me. They seem written/performed in such a way as to give the whole show a heavy YA vibe, and not in a good way. Now that I think about it, almost all the characters played like one-dimensional types straight out of central casting. Are the books considered YA fare?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:37 AM on November 20


I wouldn’t say the books are considered YA, but the majority of them were written before the modern YA boom and were probably read by teenagers as much as adults. The characters are teens in the book and aged up for the show; getting into specifics of that is probably “books-included” territory, but I think that a little clumsiness around that is some of what we’re seeing.
posted by hippugeek at 7:55 AM on November 20 [2 favorites]


My impressions of the first 3 episodes are: video game power-up sequence, so many chewie costumes plus horns, BLOOD YIN-YANG, very good doggies, BLOOD WIPE. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy it, just that's gonna be the level of enjoyment.
posted by joeyh at 7:56 AM on November 20 [2 favorites]


It failed what I call the ten minute test. I watched the first ten minutes and felt no desire to watch another ten minutes*. If I could pin it down to one thing, it would be a complete lack of humour. I'm not talking about jokes and hi-jinks. I mean just anything that wasn't rigidly sober and serious and gave me a sense that these were genuine flesh and blood characters in genuine flesh and blood situations.

* I did give it another fifteen minutes anyway. But it still completely failed to grab me. Clearly, I'm not in the target market ... and I love a good, smart, strange sci-fi/fantasy excursion.
posted by philip-random at 9:31 AM on November 20 [5 favorites]


biffa: Samurai guy seems to stick out like a sore thumb, is there going to be something to contextualize his existence other than them wanting a samurai type guy in it?

porpoise: Nynaeve's Wisdom teacher who got laughed out of the Aes Sedei for "having a peasant accent" when presenting herself - if the villagers actually had a different accent to Morraine/ Lan - that kind of detail would indicate that there was some thought.

The "peasant accent" comment struck me, too. I think these issues are the related. The setting has very distinct regional cultures and samurai guy's vibe (Lan) is reflective of his nation. However, Moiraine is also from a foreign culture, but that doesn't really come across in the show. They're both supposed to stick out like sore thumbs but instead he feels like the odd one out. They should have made the Two Rivers folks feel more like rural bumpkins, with Moiraine very obviously from a different class and culture.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:40 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


Tor.com recap/review.
posted by Coaticass at 4:24 PM on November 20


If I could pin it down to one thing, it would be a complete lack of humour. I'm not talking about jokes and hi-jinks. I mean just anything that wasn't rigidly sober and serious and gave me a sense that these were genuine flesh and blood characters in genuine flesh and blood situations.

I was mentally comparing it to The Witcher in that way - not a perfect show but the moments of genuine humor are one of the best things about it. This show could use a dose of that.

I described this pilot to friends as “if you’ve seen two of Lotr/GoT/Witcher you’ve seen everything this episode has to offer,” yet I didn’t actually dislike anything about it. I’ll keep watching it. But it does feel kinda like Fantasy Product.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:12 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Wow. That Tor recap/review is like they saw a completely different show than I did.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:35 AM on November 21


Seriously. I wish I'd seen the episode that the Tor recapper saw; it sounds great.
posted by octothorpe at 8:36 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


I've gotta assume a lot of that is because Tor publishes WoT as well as a ton of Sanderson's work. I feel like every Tor newsletter I get has at least one BS book in it.
posted by curious nu at 10:09 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Expectations are so high these days.

So - I like it - but, am nearly 50 and have lived through the era of incredibly cheesy 80's/90's fantasy/sci-fi TV (Xena/Hercules...) - to me, these special effects were ... movie'ish quality.

Have read the first 4-books many years ago - from my faded memories, it holds pretty true - except for the obvious changes as noted here. (Actually - I have read so many similar types of fantasy series, that the tropes stood out non-stop... But these are generic fantasy tropes, not necessarily caused by the transition to TV)

My partner started watching with me - she has no exposure to the books, nor fantasy in general and she thought it was good - and wants to keep watching.
posted by rozcakj at 5:22 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


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